Community Dividend

First-ever tribal national park planned for Pine Ridge

Published April 1, 2014  | April 2014 issue

The Oglala Sioux Tribe and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service are partnering to develop a first-of-its-kind tribal national park in South Dakota. The park will consist of a 133,000-acre tract of land that lies within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is adjacent to Badlands National Park. Known as the South Unit, the land was condemned by the federal government and used as a bombing range during WWII. In 1968, Congress conveyed the South Unit back to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, with the stipulation that it be held in trust and managed by the National Park Service. In 2012, the tribe and National Park Service issued a plan recommending that Congress designate the tract as a Tribal National Park. The new designation would enable the tribe to conduct preferential hiring of tribal members and to reintroduce bison to the South Unit. Development of a tribally owned bison herd could be beneficial for both partners, as it would help the Department of the Interior meet bison-conservation goals while creating economic development opportunities for the Oglala Sioux Tribe in the form of tourism, concessions, and lodging.